I find that comedy works in two very divergent surroundings. Things either work at making you laugh if they are completely outrageous such as in films like Borat or The Hangover or feature realistic situations like Friends With Kids or Something’s Gotta Give. I don’t find that previously even if they were funny that Judd Apatow films fell into the latter category. Now he goes and changes things up on me by writing and directing a funny film that also is quite realistic. Obviously, because it is a comedy film things are exaggerated for comedic purposes but in essence This is 40 works because there is a nugget of truth in everything that happens. The characters are all like really funny average people facing situations that many people their ages have faced.
In its essence this is a film about a couple who have been together a number of years, have two kids, are turning 40 and having to adjust to things. It becomes clearer and clearer as the film goes on that the more that Debbie (Leslie Man – Knocked Up, Change-Up) and Pete (Paul Rudd – Clueless, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) try to control things the crazier they get. Apatow has written them well as they very likeable in all their flaws.
Pete and Debbie live in Los Angeles with their two daughters, teenager Sadie (Maude Apatow – Knocked Up) and 8-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow – Knocked Up). Pete owns his own indie record label and Debbie owns her own clothing store. They have been married 15 years and are both turning 40 a few days apart. Though they live pretty grown up lives with kids, jobs and a mortgage, Pete and Debbie are doing their best to deny their ages. Though they are middle-aged and should be really settling into life it seems like this is the hardest of times for them. Their kids are fighting, Pete’s business is not doing well and they are in serious financial difficulty, Debbie is not accepting the fact that she is turning 40 well at all, and each has Daddy issues that they have not dealt with. Most importantly and dangerous is that Pete and Debbie’s marriage has hit a rough patch under all this stress. So much so that they begin to question their love for one another. All this adds up to the question: Are Pete and Debbie going to make it?
A comedy that deals with such heavy issues and intimacy, co-habitation, sex in a long term marriage, and honesty with your partner is very rare. One that does it and also can slip in boob, bathroom and stoner jokes is even more unusual. Much of the credit has to go to Judd Apatow as he directs and wrote the picture. He has the talent to blend the serious with the ridiculous. There have been missteps (You Don’t Mess With the Zohan), but those are rarer than his successes.
Another heap of praise has to go to the two leads, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. They are equally excellent though they have to play very different characters. Each is very brave and dedicated to the comedy. Meaning they do whatever is asked of them to get a laugh and do it well. Leslie Mann is married to Judd Apatow and he really showcases her. She is a really good comedic actress which is something we already knew about Paul Rudd.
Watching each of these “grown-up” people struggle with their lives and where they are in them is at times hilarious. Is that cruel? Am I laughing at their pain? Maybe, but it is funny. And part of the laughter comes from feeling that they were going through things I (and many other people) had as well. Judd Apatow has made a comedy that is funny, but also personal and embarrassing to watch at times. Marriages are hard to keep going and that is acknowledged as well as being seen as fodder for laughter. The reason it is not too painful is that you feel they are going to get it and become more self-aware. You just know to hang on and enjoy the ride.
-Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
-The Making of This is 40
-Fresh Air with Terry Gross
-Kids on the Loose
-Long Emotional Ride
-This is Albert Brooks
-Line-O-Rama & Brooks-O-Rama
-Biking With Barry
-Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
-Bodies By Jason
-My Scenes Bookmarking